DESPICABLE thieves stole four charity boxes containing hundreds of pounds meant for good causes in a spate of burglaries at Cotswold pubs.

The break-ins took place over the space of two days at The New Inn, in Willersey, The Baker's Arms, in Broad Campden and The Butchers Arms, in Mickleton.

One angry landlord has branded the crooks "scum" and police are appealing for witnesses as they hunt for whoever was responsible.

The burglaries took place between 11.45pm on Friday, February 7 and 9am on Saturday, February 8.

Joe McDonagh, landlord of The New Inn, said burglars got into the pub between 1am and 5am on the Friday night after forcing open a window.

They took £200 from cash boxes in the jukebox and pool table, £200 from charity boxes for the Air Ambulance and St Richard's Hospice, £110 from a filing cabinet which had been raised at a charity dance along with the pub's £800 cash float.

His wife's handbag was also snatched, which contained personal items and car keys.

"They are despicable low lives, not nice at all," he said. "It's sad really they feel they have the right to go and take someone else's hard-earned money. It's beyond belief.

"The police thought it probably was a professional gang by the way they entered and searched round everything."

Colin Badham, landlord of The Butcher's Arms, said burglars broke into the pub the early hours of Saturday morning by breaking a window.

After failing to get into the fruit machine, they took about £550 from charity boxes for the Air Ambulance, the village defibrillator fundraising campaign and Mickleton playgroup.

"It was only money they were after," he said. "There was plenty of stock about but it was just money they took. We're disgusted really but what can you do? They're scum, absolute low lives."

A third pub, The Bakers Arms in Broad Campden, near Chipping Campden, was also broken into over the weekend.

Luttie Bates, who runs the pub with her daughter Jess, said thankfully nothing was taken as they do not keep money on the premises - and luckily the charity box was hidden well out of sight.

"They tried jimmying the front window and tried the cellar door but ended up coming through the smallest of windows in the ladies loo," she said. "I just think it's quite funny, they must have been very disappointed getting in after all that effort and there was nothing there."

Police are investigating and anyone with information or who witnessed any suspicious activity near the pubs should call 101, quoting incident 74 of February 8.

between 11.45pm on Friday, February 7 and 9am on Saturday, February 8